Have you been experiencing a sudden onset of pain in your big toe? Is that pain also accompanied by swelling? Did these symptoms develop after you have been sick or sustained an injury? If so, it could be a sign of gout.
A form of inflammatory arthritis, gout is a generalized term that describes a buildup of uric acid in the blood. A chemical that is naturally produced to help the body break down foods that contain organic compounds known as purines, uric acid is vital to your overall health. Normally, your body produces uric acid to aid in the breakdown of purines. Once the purines are broken down, they and the uric acid are both cleansed out of the blood by the kidneys with urine. If conditions change, however, and there are high levels of uric acid, it can buildup in the body. Over time, this build-up of uric acid will turn into urate crystals, which can collect around the soft tissues and joints, which can develop into inflammation or gout.
An estimated 4 percent of adults in the United States are afflicted with gout, which may seem like a small number, but it translated to approximately 8 million people. Men are more likely to develop the condition, and it also appears to hereditary, which means that if someone in your family has gout, you are at a greater risk for developing it yourself. Those who consume a large number of foods that are high in purines, and those who have other health conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, are also an increased risk for developing this inflammatory condition. Additionally, people who drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day or consume a lot of soda, are obese, who are taking diuretic medications, or have undergone gastric bypass surgery are also at risk.
While got usually affects the feet, it can also affect other parts of the body. How can you tell if you have gout? The best way is to understand the symptoms that are associated with the condition. Here’s a look at some of the most common signs of gout.
1. Pain in the big toe
One of the first and most noticeable signs of gout is the development of pain in the big toe. Medically referred to as podagra, this symptom is usually what sparks a diagnosis of gout. Since gout is caused by excessive production of uric acid, which commonly collects in the big toe, it is not unusual for pain to affect the area. When excessive amounts of uric acid are in the blood, it is known as hyperuricemia, and it causes a significant amount of pain in the big toe. In fact, the pain is often so severe that it may be impossible for someone to walk. It can take a few hours or a few days for the pain to subside.